Twister skipper pleased thus far

Twister skipper pleased thus far
Twister skipper pleased thus far
Darren Bowling liked most of what he saw.
He wants to see a little more, though, both this spring and in the fall.
Bowling Union City football team scrimmaged for the only this spring on Tuesday, and the coach pronounced himself “generally pleased” with his team’s effort in outscoring McKenzie five-touchdowns-to-four.
“It was typical of one of my scrimmages — there wasn’t a lot of fancy stuff, just simple, physical-style football,” said the Tornado skipper, whose club will finish its 10-day allotment of drills next week. “I was interested is seeing us play hard — and we did — and be aggressive — and we were.
“We’ve still got a ton of work to do on both sides of the ball because we’d really only had three days (of workouts) before the scrimmage. We need to make more progress and have those same characteristics that we showed on Tuesday the remainder of the spring and have that same mindset when we come back for offseason weights and fall camp.”
The Tornadoes are coming off a subpar 5-6 mark in 2010, a disappointing showing on the heels of the school’s only state football championship the year before in Bowling’s second season at the helm.
UC barely made the playoffs a year ago and was bounced in Round 1 by Bruceton in an upset that the coach says has fueled offseason weight and agility sessions.
“Anytime you have a season like we did last year, I think you use that as motivation in the following offseason,” Bowling said. “You have to be real careful, though, because you want your kids looking forward and not back.
“I do think we’ve made some gains in the weight room. Our kids are a year older, and I believe they were excited about getting out there and getting after it against a program like McKenzie’s that is always one of the better ones in West Tennessee.”
Though they lost just two starters off last year’s team, the spring and some of fall camp will be designated to finding a replacement for the most critical player in Bowling’s midline/veer offense.
Chase Bowling, the son of the Tornado skipper, took every meaningful snap the last two seasons and was generally considered a coach on the field by his father and opponents.
Making up for his lack of athleticism with savvy leadership and the ability to audible while also reading opposing defenses in the option attack, the younger Bowling will be sorely missed and left a big hole.
Junior-to-be Travis Rutland is getting the first crack at replacing Bowling and played every play at the position vs. the Rebels on Tuesday.
Rutland’s day was a mixed bag as he did have a handful of nice gains on option-keepers and threw a long 70-yard touchdown pass to Deandrez Williams, but also regularly struggled with center-exchanges and ball security.
“Travis got beat up a little bit by McKenzie’s defense, but I think he knows a lot of it was his fault for some poor reads and not being able to get the snap,” Bowling said in his evaluation of Rutland. “I did like the way he hung in there and was tough after taking some shots.
“He’ll be a work in progress, but he wants to get better and I expect him to.”
Williams, who was moved to split-end from a slot position, also showed his breakaway speed on a 70-yard reverse that went for a touchdown.
Bruising fullback Keylon Hyde was essentially unstoppable for the Twisters, scoring on runs of 70, 40 and two yards. Hyde rushed for more than 1,200 yards as a sophomore last season.
In addition to Hyde, Bowling singled out Brett Gore at linebacker, defensive lineman Terrance Fitts and two-way lineman Joseph Shanks, along with defensive tackle Michael Dysart, who had a pair of sacks and a couple of more stops for lost yardage.
“We have a lot of folks back from last year, but we’re still going to be a relatively-young football team in the fall,” Bowling concluded. “We’ll only have a few seniors, so we’ll be mostly juniors.
“I was proud to see that after McKenzie scored on its first two possessions yesterday, our guys didn’t seem to like the taste of that much and got more aggressive. That’s part of the growing up process. The old saying is, ‘If they don’t bite as pups, they won’t bite as grown dogs.’ We bit back yesterday and were aggressive. I liked seeing that.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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